Online Media

Online Media

A company formed by Acorn Computer Group plc to exploit the ARM RISC in television set-top box decoders. They are wooing British Telecommunications plc to use the box in some of its video on demand trials.

The box will be based on an ARM8 core with additional circuits to enable MPEG to be decoded in software - possibly dedicated instructions for interpolation, inverse DCT or Huffman table extraction. They have already moved audio MPEG to sillicon. The box will use Acorn's RISC OS operating system as the control environment and is also looking at putting Oracle and Microword on it. Online will reduce component numbers and therefore cost by transferring functions presently on boards into the single RISC chip.

The interactive set-top boxes are not limited to the television - personal computer videoconferencing and extended networking are being developed. Acorn already has partnerships with Bell Northern Research and Northern Telecom Limited, News International, Alcatel NV and its majority shareholder Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA.

The company is presently wholly owned by Acorn, but eventually expects to bring in external investment. Online will start a four phase trial in Cambridge with Cambridge Cable Co, Advanced Telecommunications Modules Ltd. - the Hermann Hauser company promising super-cheap Asynchronous Transfer Mode - and Anglia Television, later this year.

[Article by cross-posted from, 1994-07-7].
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